In the most buoyant commercial real estate market in history, the pace of change is greatly accelerated. Nothing symbolizes this better than the record $102.8 billion in REIT mergers and acquisitions that were announced in 2006. For 10 of the real estate industry's leading movers and shakers profiled here in NREI's fourth annual “Ten to Watch” feature, the demands of this frenetic market are — in a word — colossal.
How these executives respond to these challenges depends on where they stand in this complex business. Some are vaulting oceans in search of deals. Visionaries like hotelier Stevan Porter, who has successfully recharged InterContinental Hotels Group, are pushing their empires into lucrative offshore markets. Porter has transformed a sagging global brand into something to brag about — and he's only a few years into his spirited campaign.
Other leaders like Sonny Kalsi of Morgan Stanley and ProLogis' Jeff Schwartz are exposing U.S. real estate investors to the vast Asian property markets, where gargantuan economic growth is fueling demand for space. Their combined portfolios are worth nearly $50 billion, and that total is only getting larger by the week.
Other executives are blazing trails on domestic soil. In Chicago, broker Marc Boorstein has helped legitimize the self-storage business in the eyes of large institutional players. CEO Terry Brown of Edens & Avant in Columbia, S.C., a heavyweight in the grocery-anchored retail business, is leveraging the power of being private to propel the firm. Brown also has a keen understanding of how institutional investors think. Then there's Cal Frese of world-beating brokerage CB Richard Ellis. Last year, Frese helped CBRE finally wed corporate services guru Trammell Crow in a $2.2 billion deal.
What reverberates from their collective stories is a determination to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. For better or worse, their strategic thinking will have a definite impact on the future of this business and guide the industry into its next cycle.
For full Ten To Watch profiles click here